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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Women’s basketball’s season concludes with loss to No. 2 Niagara

Tyler Rinko
(From left) Freshman guard Ava Sollenne, sophomore guard Bri Bowen, junior forward Grace LaBarge and sophomore forward Ella O’Donnell all stand behind the free throw line in Quinnipiac’s 70-56 loss to Niagara Wednesday afternoon.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — When starting from scratch, there’s bound to be hiccups. Quinnipiac women’s basketball caught a case of the hiccups that lasted 40 minutes, in the form of a 70-56 physical loss at the hands of Niagara in the MAAC Tournament Wednesday.

The first half was nothing but sloppy.

By the end of it, the most indicative stat of how each team played was not the score — which Niagara led 24-17 over the Bobcats — but turnovers and personal fouls.

Quinnipiac turned the ball over more times than the points it scored in the first half. It had 20 in the half, mainly due to the Purple Eagles’ unrelenting, chaotic full-court press.

“Niagara plays such a great style of basketball … it’s tough to prepare for, tough to play against and it’s really tough to officiate,” Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri said.

Niagara had adjusted to the Bobcats’ press break, and capitalized on it. The Purple Eagles scored 31 points off of turnovers compared to Quinnipiac’s five.

For example, Niagara graduate guard Angel Parker forced a turnover from freshman guard Paige Girardi and easily laid the ball up and into the basket.

The only offense the Bobcats generated was finding sophomore forward Ella O’Donnell in the post and freshman guard Ava Sollenne in the corner for three.

By the end of the game, O’Donnell had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

“I thought Ella O’Donnell was phenomenal today in terms of physicality, going after balls, defending (and) playing really hard,” Fabbri said.

Beginning the second quarter, freshman forward Anna Foley and Girardi turned the ball over consecutively, which led to four Purple Eagle points.

Speaking of Foley, the Andover, Massachusetts, native drew three personal fouls in the first half. Niagara’s junior guard Aaliyah Parker and sophomore forward Amelia Strong also drew the same amount of contact.

Niagara’s chaos was persistent, but it was up to the Bobcats to respond in the second half and keep their life in Atlantic City alive.

However in the second half, that lifeline fell flat.

The Bobcats managed to remain competitive at the beginning of the third, with a triple from Sollenne bringing the game within three.

But Niagara responded with buckets from sophomores guard Ary Hicks and forward Amelia Strong, who led the way for the Purple Eagles.

“It can take one or two plays that can throw you off your mark,” Niagara head coach Jada Pierce said. “Today, we did a really great job responding to the runs that Quinnipiac made.”

Strong, a Niagara Falls, New York, native dropped a career-high 20 points in just 14 minutes, while also notching five rebounds.

She called this performance the “fruits of her labor,” in what’s so far the Purple Eagles’ biggest game of the year. Strong epitomized Niagara’s relentlessness with how she played.

“The mindset (for today) was ‘whatever it took,’” Strong said. “If I had to push the ref, if I had to push a teammate, if I had to push the coach, I was going to do it.”

Hicks and graduate guard Angel Parker punctuated Niagara’s hot third quarter with a streetball-esque play. Off a turnover, Angel Parker passed behind her back to Hicks, who quickly passed back to Parker. Count it, and-one.

From there, Quinnipiac’s struggle maxed out.

The Purple Eagles continued to extend their lead, while the Bobcats added on to their season-high 35 turnovers.

Hicks, Strong and Aaliyah Parker kept scoring while Quinnipiac mustered up some free throws, ultimately being outscored in the quarter by two and in the game by 14, 70-56.

Though this loss stings, for the Bobcats, it shows a foundation already being built.

There’s no reason for Quinnipiac to hang its hat on this season. Foley was an All-MAAC Second Teamer and she and Martin were on the All-MAAC Rookie Team. Combined with standout seasons from Sollenne, Girardi and LaBarge, the future is bright in Hamden.

Junior guard Jackie Grisdale will return from injury, a new class of Bobcats will come into Hamden in July, and Quinnipiac will be back to crawling starting in November 2024.

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Tyler Rinko
Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

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